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Full text of "Cartwright and Melville at the University of Geneva, 1569-1574"

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DOCUMENTS 

i. Cartwright and Melville at the University of Geneva, 156^1574.. 

Professor Charles Borgeaud, of the University of Geneva, 
well known to American readers by his Rise of Modern Democracy 
in Old and New England ( 1 894) and his Adoption and Amendment 
of Constitutions in Europe and America (1895), has of late been oc- 
cupied, at the instance of his university, with the preparation of an 
elaborate and scholarly history of that institution and its men, to be 
published in two handsome illustrated volumes. The first, entitled 
L Academie de Calvin jusqu'a la Chute de I'Ancienne Republique, 
1 5 59—1798 (600 pp. quarto), is in the press and is expected to be 
issued in January, 1900. By the kindness of M. Borgeaud we are 
enabled to present, from advance sheets of this volume, 1 certain in- 
teresting documents which he has discovered in the archives of the 
university, relating to the residence and teaching there of two famous 
British divines, afterward leaders in the Calvinistic party in England 
and Scotland respectively — together with the following explana- 
tions by the author : 



In June of 1571, an exile celebrated in the history of the six- 
teenth-century reformation, one of the fathers of English non-con- 
formity, commenced at the request of the ministers, in the Acad- 
emy founded by Calvin twelve years before, a course of two hours 
a week, which was continued during several months. In a letter of 
Beza to Bullinger, dated September 19, 157 1, at a time when the 
plague was prevalent in Geneva, he says : 

" The pest afflicts us greatly and other maladies are also prevalent, 
which carry off many. Job Veyrat, professor of philosophy, has died. 
Portus [professor of Greek] , who is more than a sexagenarian, is suffer- 
ing from the fever. An Englishman, a pious and learned man, who has 
been of great help to us, is beginning to languish. . . . The lower col- 
lege is dispersed, I alone keep up, so far as my strength permits, what 
remains of the public lecturing." 1 

The " pious and learned Englishman " was Thomas Cartwright. 
The fact of his service in the Academy has heretofore escaped the 
'Pp. 107-119. 

2 MS. , Bibliotheque Publique de Geneve. 

(284) 



Cartwright and Melville at Geneva 285 

biographers of the deposed Cambridge professor. But it is suffi- 
ciently assured by the records of both the Council of State and the 
Company of Pastors. In consulting these, however, it must be re- 
membered that those who kept them were not familiar with English 
names, and that therefore that of Cartwright must be sought for under 
the romanized form of Carturit. With the aid of this key one will 
find, in the records for January, 1572, a substantial and striking 
proof of the Genevan origin of the ecclesiastical system of the Puri- 
tans. For it was in that very year, on his return from Geneva, that 
Cartwright, resuming the pen, drew up his famous Admonition to 
Parliament, one of the first manifestos launched at the Church of 
Elizabeth, the most effective and the most important in its conse- 
quences. The following are the records referred to : 

"Anglois ministre. Les ministres ayant fait advertir qu'il y a icy un 
Anglois, excellent theologien, lequel ils ont prie de faire quelques lecons 
en theologie, le jeudi et le vendredi, ce qu'il leur a promis faire gratu- 
itement, s'il est trouve bon par Messieurs, arreste qu'on l'aprouve." 
(Register of the Council, June 28, 1571.) 

1572. "Le vendredy 18 [de Janvier], tous les Freres estans en- 
semble, lettres d'Angleterre escrites par M. Chevalier ont este leues par 
lesquelles on rapelle M. Th. Carturit. 

"Le Jeudi 25 s [read 24] M. de Beze a propose au Consistoire s'il 
trouveroit bon que M. Carturit et M. Van Til ' assistassent a quelques uns 
de nos consistoires, ce qu'ilsdesiroyent pour voir l'ordre qu'on y tient et y 
profiter et s'en servir, non seulement aux gouvernements de leurs Eglises, 
mais aussi pour respondre a ceux qui parlent de notre Consistoire autre- 
ment qu'il ne fault. La chose a este trouvee bonne et a este arreste que 
Messieurs seroient pries de l'approuver pour le consistoire prochain. 

" Le vendredi 26° [read 25], M. Carturit a este apelle en nostre 
Compagnie et a este remercie de la peine qu'il avoit prinse pour ceste 
Eschole laquelle nous desirons de recognoistre a nostre pouvoir et en 
general et en particulier, recommandant ceste Eglise a ses prieres, 
comme aussi a celles des freres d'Angleterre, vers lesquels il alloit, les- 
quels comme on a veu icy volontiers et aimez, quand ils y estoient 
aultrefois retirez, aussi desirons nous ceste saincte amitie estre bien en- 
tretenue et que de nostre part nous serons tousjours tres joyeux de leur 
faire service. 

" M. Carturit de sa part a remercie fort expressement les freres de 
l'honneur qu'il avait receu particulierement d'eux, outre l'humanite et 
bon accueil qu'il avoit receu generalement en ceste cite, et s'est offert a 
ceste Eglise en tout ce qu'il pourroit, a laquelle il se sent a jamais 
oblige. 

" Les freres l'ont prie et ses compagnons Anglois qui estoyent en 
ceste ville de souper avec eux mardy prochain au Banquet rectoral chez 
M. Ch. Perrot." (Register of the Company, January, 1572.) 

" Thomas Carturit, anglois, docteur en theologie, s'estant retire icy 
des quelques temps, pource qu'il estoyt mal voulu en Angleterre pour 
avoir publiquement en des lecons soustenu la discipline ecclesiastique 
comme elle est icy pratiquee, a comparu et a remercie Messieurs de 

1 Thomas Van Til was at this time pastor of the Flemish community at Geneva. 



286 Documents 

1'honneur qu'ilz luy ont fait de 1'avoir retenu en ceste ville, oii il a en- 
cores ete honors de la charge de lire en theologie avec mons r de Beze a 
son tour, oii, par le raport de la Compagnie des ministres, tesmoigne par 
ledit M. de Beze qui a porte la parolle pour luy qui ne parle pas bon 
francois, il s'est porte fidellement et doctement. Et, veu qu'il est rapele 
pour retourner en Angleterre, il n'a pas voulu partir sans remercier Mes- 
sieurs et leur offrir service, supliant au reste luy donner permission 
d'assister une fois au consistoire affin de voir l'ordre qu'on y tient, pour 
en faire le raport par dela. Sur quoy a este arreste de le remercier de 
1'honneur qu'il a fait a ceste eschole et luy offrir recompense de sa lec- 
ture, luy accordant au reste la requeste qu'il a fait et semblablement aussi 
au sieur Van Til qui en a fait une de mesme, veu que ce qu'ils en font 
tend a bonne fin et qu'il ne procede pas de curiosite. " (Register of the 
Council, January 29, 1572.) 

" Le jeudy dernier [31 Janvier], M. Carturit assista en consistoire." 
(Register of the Company, January 1572.) 

Another great name of the Protestant Reformation, that of 
Andrew Melville, has undergone in the same original documents a 
similar metamorphosis, which has until now baffled such attempts 
as have been made to find in the state records of Geneva some trace 
of the future organizer of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 
He signed himself, at that time, in Latin : Melvinus. He was called 
in countries where the French language was used : Melvin. Having 
studied at St. Andrews and at Paris, he then taught for three years 
at the college of Saint-Marceau, at Poitiers, and left that city in 1 569 
when Coligny raised the siege. His destination was Geneva. In 
the autobiography of James Melville, the nephew of the Scotch re- 
former, one finds the following account, which the author wrote out 
from the personal recollections of his uncle : l 

"The seage of the town being rasit, he left Poicteors, and accom- 
panied with a Frenche man, he tuk jorney to Genev, leaving buikis and all 
ther, and caried na thing with him bot a litle Hebrew Byble in his belt. 
So he cam to Genev all upon his fut, as he haid done befor from Deipe to 
Paris, and from that to Poicteors ; for he was small and light of body, 
but full of sprites, vigourus and cowragius. His companiones of the way, 
when they cam to the ine, 2 wald ly down lyk tyred tyks, s bot he wald out 
and sight* the townes and vilages withersoever they cam. The ports of 
Genev wer tentilie keipit, because of the troubles of France, and multitud 
of strangers that cam. Being thairfor inquyrit what they war, the 
Franche man his companion answerit, "We are pure 5 scollars." Bot 
Mr Andro, perceaving that they naid na will of pure folks, being al- 
readie owerfaid thairwith, said, "No, no, we are nocht puir. We haiff 

1 The Autobiography and Diary of Mr. James Melville, Minister of Kilrenny, in 
Fife, and Professor of Theology in the University of St. Andrews, edited, for the Wod- 
row Society, by Robert Pitcaim, Edinburgh, 1842, pp. 41 etseqq. 

2 Inn. 

3 Dogs, hounds. 

* Inspect, examine. 
5 Poor. 



Cartwright and Melville at Geneva 287 

alsmikle as will pey for all we tak, sa lang as we tarie. We haiff letters 
from his acquentance to Monsieur di Beza ; let us deliver those, we crave 
na fordar. ' ' And sa, being convoyit to Beza, and then to thair ludging, 
Beza, perceaving himaschollar, and theyhaiffing neid of a Professour of 
Humanitie in the Collage, put him within a twa or thrie days to tryell in 
Virgill and Homer; quhilk he could acquait soweill, that but farder 1 he 
is placed in that roum of profession ; and at his first entrie, a quarter's 
fie peyit him in hand. ' ' 

The title of professor of humanity, employed above, led Mel- 
ville's biographer, Dr. Thomas McCrie, to suppose that Melville 
had been a professor in the Academy {Schola Publico) of Geneva. 2 
The records of the Council show that he was, in reality, regent of 
the second class at the College {Schola Privata), and that he filled 
the position during five years. He was nominated to the College 
on November 10, 1569, together with Hugues Roy, "pour servir 
en la cinquieme, le dit Roy, et pour la seconde le dit Melvin, 
gens bien propres a telle charge. Iceux ont ete aprouves et 
ont fait le serment." (Register of the Council ad diem.) Not 
contented with fulfilling the duties imposed upon him by his 
position, he took advantage of this opportunity to continue 
his studies, and, by the special favor of the scholastic authorities, 
he was able to follow not only the theological courses of Beza, 
but also the Greek and Hebrew courses given by the public lec- 
turers, thus associating himself with Franciscus Portus and Ber- 
tramus. Scrimger, late professor of philosophy, was connected with 
him by marriage. At Paris he had been the pupil of the royal 
lecturers, Jean Mercier, Turnebus, Ramus, and as such had lib- 
erty of speech concerning advanced instruction in the ancient 
languages. His nephew tells us that he would readily quarrel 
with Portus over his method of pronouncing by accents, after 
the Greek manner, maintaining with the obstinacy of a follower of 
Ramus that Portus was in the wrong. The Cretan would cry out, 
losing all patience : " Is it you then, Scots, barbarians, who shall 
teach us to pronounce our own tongue ? " 

' ' In Genev he abead fyve years ; during the quhilk tyme his cheiff 
studie was Divinitie, wheranent he hard Beza his daylie lessons and 
preatchings ; Cornelius Bonaventura, Professour of the Hebrew, Caldaik 
and Syriac langages ; Portus, a Greik born, Professour of the Greik 
toung, with whom he wald reassone about the right pronuntiation thairof ; 
for the Greik pronuncit it efter the comoun form, keiping the accents ; 
the quhilk Mr Andro controllit be precepts and reasone, till the Greik 
wald grow angrie, and cry out : ' Vos Scoti, vos barbari ! docebitis nos 
Graecos pronunciationem linguae nostrae, scilicet ?' ' ' (Autobiography, 
P- 42.) 

1 Without further ado or examination. 

8 Life of Andrew Melville, second ed., p. 32. 



288 Documents 

When Ramus, who lectured at Geneva during the spring of 
1570, was about to return to France, he paused at Lausanne, and 
gave a month's course, in which he had the opportunity, denied him 
in Beza's school, to expound without restraint his famous dialectic. 
Among the disciples who had followed him to Lausanne, in July, 
should be mentioned Andrew Melville and his fellow-countryman 
Gilbert Moncrifif, who became physician to James VI. In Septem- 
ber the two Scots returned to Geneva. We read in the records of 
the Council of Lausanne : " Le 5 septembre 1570 Andre Melvin et 
Gilbert Mengrifz, escolliers escossois, prennent conge." 1 Moncrifif 
wrote his name in the rector's book of the Genevan academy, at the 
commencement of 1567: " Gilbertus Moncreif Scotus." 

Melville left Geneva, to return to Scotland, in the spring of 1 574 ; 
his place as regent of the second class was taken by Emilius Portus, 
son of the professor of Greek. 

1 avril 1574. "Andre Melvin. Emile Portus. Mons r de Beze a pro- 
pose que ledit Melvin, desirant se retirer en son pays, leur a demands 
conge, et qu'en son lieu ils ont esleu ledit Portus, fils de M. Portus, pour 
faire la charge de la seconde classe. Attendu quoi il a este receu et a 
preste le serment." 

5 avril. " Andri Melvin s'est presente icy priant Mess rs avoir a gre le 
service qu'il a faict a la Seigneurie estant regent a l'escole. Arreste qu'on 
lui reponde qu'on se contente de son service, luy donnant gracieux 
conge." (Register of the Council, ad annum.} 

When Melville left Geneva, in company with Alexander Camp- 
bell, Bishop of Brechin, and his tutor, Andrew Polwart, in April 
1574, he carried as testimonial a letter to the churches of Scotland, 
written by Beza in his capacity of Moderator of the Company of 
Pastors and Professors, and to which Jean Pinaud, Rector of the 
School, added a few lines. A duplicate of this document, which is 
mentioned in James Melville's Diary, still exists among the ecclesias- 
tical correspondence deposited in the Bibliotheque Publique of 
Geneva. It read as follows : 

Testimonium quod datum est Andrea Melvino in patriam suam Scotiam 

redeunti. 
" Gratiam et pacetn a Domino." 
' ' Quam studiose nobis veterem illam conjunctionem retinendam 
arbitremur, fratres ac symmistae plurimum observandi, vel ex eo existi- 
mate quod Andrea Melvino ad suos, id est ad vos, redeundi potestatem 
fecerimus. Erat enim ille totus optimo jure noster et quandiu apud nos 
vixit (vixit autem quinquiennium) ea pietate fide ac diligentia munus in 
privata hujus civitatis schola sibi commissum administravit ut quo nobis 
utilior fuit presentis opera eo majorem ex ipsius profectione jacturam 

1 Communication from M. le professeur Bernus. 



Cartwright and Melville at Geneva 289 

fecisse videamur. Sed nos ipsos nobis potius negligendos putavimus 
quamu t vestri rationem non satis habuisse videamur. Absit enim ut quod 
vobis confertur nobis periisse existimemur et a nostris commodis vestra 
sejungamus. Nam certe vos haec Ecclesia nonmodo pro fratribus agnos- 
cit verum etiam quasi mater filios amplectitur, memor videlicet magnorum 
illorum virorum, D. Cnoxi et D. Gudmani, quos sibi merito carissimos 
tantisper fovit in sinu, dum ad vos redirent magnum illud opus Domini 
feliciter, ut exitus ostendit, extructuri. Ad haec etiam accedit commune 
confessionis Helveticae Vinculum, ut nisi vos perinde ac nos ipsos omnia 
pene divina et humana jura violasse existimari possimus. Itaque fratres 
sanctam istam inter nos, usque adeo felicibus auspiciis, coeptam conjunc- 
tionem omni officiorum genere foveamus, et quorum corpora tantis terra- 
rum ac maris spatiis dirimuntur eorum animos ille Domini nostri Jesu 
Christi spiritus idem in ipso sentientes, docentes, agentes, magis ac 
magis devinciat. Nos quidem, favente Dei misericordia, nullum in nobis 
fraternum officium desiderari patiemur, nee vos alio vicissim in nos animo 
futuros plane confidimus. 

"Caeterum, quod ad res nostras attinet, quam clementer nobiscum 
Dominus totis 7 annis egerit, quum nos flagello pestis erudiret, quam 
benigne inflictas nobis plagas pene jam persanarit, quam admirabiliter 
idem ille rursum apud nos hospitium miseris exulibus ac naufragis fratri- 
bus aperuerit, caeteraque ejusmodi plenissime ex iis nostris fratribus cog- 
noscetis. Ex D. Cnoxi morte maximum Sicuti par est dolorem cepimus ; 
est enim certe bonorum mors semper nobis immatura in tanta illorum 
penuria. Illud tamen justissimum nostrum mserorem multum lenit quod 
Ecclesias optime institutas atque etiam, ut audimus, multo quam unquam 
antea pacatiores vobis et pietate et doctrina instructissimis, reliquit. Sic 
futurum omnino speramus, Dei optimi maximi benignitate freti, ut quam- 
vis strenuus ille Ipycnrfi ac etiam ipYodtwrjTrji jam quiescat labore suo feli- 
citer defunctus, tamenque neque summus ille et unicus vere ap^ir(xTu»/ opus 
suum deseruerit, neque vos illi praecipienti et hortanti defuturi sitis, 
quod isti adeo feliciter repugnantibus tam multis hostibus coeptum ac 
promotum est quam felicissime perficiatur. Ita faxit Dominus Deus nos- 
ter, fratres ac symmistae plurimum observandi, quem totis animis preca- 
mur ut suorum misertus Satanae rabiem compescat Vestrisque Sanctis 
laboribus benedicat. Bene valete et nos vicissim pergite complecti. 
" Genevae, XII Aprilis 1574. 

" Theodoros Beza vester 

conservus, suo totiusque Collegii 

nomine. ' ' 
" Quamvis nostro omnium nomine deservandissimus noster frater D. 
Theodorus Beza nostram benevolentiam et cum vestris Ecclesiis conjunc- 
tionem tam vere et tam sincere testatus sit ut nihil addi debeat, tamen 
veluti ix Tzaptooaias usus est hoc addere, nihil gratius nobis posse accidere 
quam vestras Ecclesias in dies confirmari audiamus et mutuam nostram 
amicitiam, quam et vos non minus cupere arbitramur, augescere. 

"Superius D. Andrea Melvino testimonium verissimum esse confirm- 
amus, prolixiori commendatione usuri, nisi fore speraremus ut viri mo- 
destia, eruditio et pietas ilium abunde satis commendarent, ac vestris 
Ecclesiis quod imprimis optandus plurimum commendarent. Valete ob- 
servandissimi fratres et in Domino colendissimi. 
" Genevae, XII Apr. 1574. 

"Jo. Pinaldus, pastor in Ecclesia genevensi 

et Scholae Rector." 



290 Documents 

A few days before the above testimonial was delivered to him 
in the name of the Church and School, Andrew Melville had taken 
his leave of the Council of State. The fact is recorded in the fol- 
lowing entry : 

"Andre Melvin s'est presente icy, priant Messieurs avoir a gre le 
service qu'il a faict a la Seigneurie, estant regent a l'escole. Arreste 
qu'on luy reponde qu'on se contente de son service, luy donnant gra- 
cieux conge." (Register of the Council, April 5, 1574.) 

Melville's garden in the college precincts was inherited by a refu- 
gee of St. Bartholomew, who had become Professor of Arts in the 
Academy, and whom he had also the rare opportunity of hearing 
in the only courses of public lectures which the celebrated scholar 
ever gave in his long life. This was Joseph Scaliger. Under the 
date of March 16, 1574, the Secretary of the Council entered : 

"Joseph Scaliger. Estant propose qu'il desireroit avoir ung jardin, 
arrest^ qu'on luy bailie celuy de M r Melvin, qui s'en va en France, com- 
ment on dit." 

According to James Melville, his uncle left for Lyons, Orleans 
and Paris. He sailed from Dieppe for England. From London 
he took his journey by Berwick to Edinburgh, where he arrived in 
the beginning of July. 



2. Journal of Philip Fithian, kept at Nomini Hall, Virginia, 

The following pages contain selections from the journal kept by 
Philip Vickers Fithian, while tutor in the family of Councillor Car- 
ter of Nomini Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Philip Fithian 
was born in Greenwich, New Jersey, December 29, 1 747. After 
three years of schooling under the Rev. Enoch Green of Deerfield, 
N. J., he entered Princeton College, November 30, 1770, being ad- 
mitted to the Junior Class, and graduating in September, 1772, in 
the same class with Aaron Burr. The year following was spent in 
the study of theology, under his old friend and teacher Dr. Green 
of Deerfield, his ambition being admittance to the Presbyterian 
clergy. It was in the fall of 1773 that he received a letter from Dr. 
Witherspoon, offering him a situation in the family of Robert Carter 
of Virginia, stating that he had recommended him to his old friend 
as a tutor, and advising him to accept, if only temporarily. Though 
warned against the danger he incurred, both moral and physical, by 
venturing into such a sea of temptation, as many prejudiced people 
then regarded the South, he decided to accept ; and thus it was he 
came to Nomini Hall. It is pleasing to note how agreeable was